Karmel Knocking Around for a Sunday Hike and Slice™ in Bergen County

The draw for this Hike and Slice™ was getting to Kinchley’s Tavern in Ramsey so we looked and found that Ramapo Reservation – more formally known as Ramapo Valley County Reservation – was but a 10-minute drive down Route 17.

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Ramapo Valley County Reservation is a 4,000 acres county operated and maintained park located in Mahwah. It’s accessible on Route 202 just past Ramapo College. It borders Ringwood State Park to the north, and Ramapo Mountain State Forest to the south.

The park provides for hiking along the side of a mountain, following a brook that leads to a waterfall. People can also fish and even camp on the grounds.

There is a network of trails that can connect you to the adjoining parks…basically a multi-park trail system. There is a map at the trailhead, but it is a bit confusing as to actual distances and where the different trails actually go. The trails have markings, but if you look at the map provided, try to use an app like AllTrails, etc., you can easily get turned around. We chose to stay on a trail called the vista loop that followed the brook past the waterfalls and to the MacMillan Reservoir.

Along the vista trail.loop

We entered the Park from the parking lot and followed a path, not a trail, but a path that leads past a brick ruins, a pond covered in green yuk, over a bridge, to Scarlet Oak Pond. There were a lot of people sitting on blankets on the banks of the pond, while others were fishing. We made our way along the path known as vista spur until we made a turn onto the vista loop.

We encountered a lot of people on the spur and the path did not look at all like a hiking trail which prompted Melissa to say, “I hope this is going to get more ‘trail-like’ soon.” Be careful what you wish for. Because while the spur was an easy walk, even for the casual walker or even people with disabilities and difficulties, once on the actual trail, it WAS ‘trail-like.’

The rocky trail on the vista loop.

The trail was picturesque with beautiful tree-lined areas, plenty of cascading water, as well as some challenging areas with some rocky climbs.

Cascading water along the vista trail.

The waterfall was, actually, a real nice view. You can enjoy it from both the bottom, and the top. People were parked on a rock down at the bottom, enjoying the spray, and some youngins were kanoodling at the top. They were also posing for selfies but they were mostly kanoodling.

The Falls of the Ramapo Reservation.

We continued on to MacMillan Reservoir where we found a sign deterring people from entering the water because of dangerous algae levels. We walked across the concrete barrier, through the water, to the opposite side where there were many dogs playing, obviously immune to the dangerous levels of algae. We didn’t get affected by the algae but I was covered in mud thanks to a fun-loving and, apparently, Alan-loving husky that decided to come over and lick my face. It KNEW to stay away from Melissa. She’s not exactly a dog-lover. And while I do love dogs, I DON’T LOVE being covered in mud.

The big one on the guy’s back is the one that got me!

At this point we were just about 1.5 miles in so we decided to go a LITTLE further and then head back to make it a 3.1 miles jaunt. It was the middle of the day and it was hot. And we were really thinking about the pizza. And cleaning the mud off of me.

Kinchley’s Tavern in Ramsey has been around since 1937. It definitely has that old tavern feel and ambiance, yet is extremely clean and has a “fresh” look to it. Oh…and it’s one of the only older iconic New Jersey pizza establishments that is actually open on Sunday.

Kinchley’s Tavern established in 1937.

It’s family-friendly – the staff is very cordial and helpful – with a huge menu and a full bar with a nice selection of beers. But we went to get a taste of the ultra-thin pizza that Kinchley’s is known for.

Family-friendly Kinchley’s Tavern!

After the hike in the heat of the middle of the day, we definitely wanted a beer. There wasn’t much in the selection of real “local” beers and we were offered a free sample of any beer. But we just each ordered a beer without the need for a sample. I think we were just famished at that point. I got a light beer and Melissa got a darker beer. I drank mine…she didn’t finish hers. But, really, we were there for the pizza.

We ordered a large 14” pie with some extra sauce. They also serve a medium (12”) – for dinner only – and small (10”). It was cut into 12 small slices, rather than eight (8) slices, or even six like a small pie, and we were able to finish off the entire pie. Actually, eating six slices felt just the same as eating three slices of a small pie.

A Kinchley’s Tavern ultra-thin crust pie!

The crust was, as advertised, ultra-thin. The sauce was good, and sweet, but pretty mild. And there was just a thin layer of cheese so it wasn’t at all “cheesy” nor was there any grease. Definitely if you are into thin crust pizza, this place is a “must visit.”

The hike…Ramapo Reservation made for a pretty good hike. It was fun…it was an easy to moderate hike with a lot of the features we enjoy on a hike – cascading waters, a beautiful waterfall, and not to challenging rock formations. It’s a good park for beginners, and those who want to venture out with the family. As for the slice…Kinchley’s is a great place for pizza, and we gotta go back and try the other offerings on the menu. Highly recommend it.

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